So it’s only two days left to go until the US Presidential election, and of course as a foreign national, it is not my place to suggest whom Americans should vote for.* But with the last few hours literally ticking away, I would like to take this opportunity to make one thing abundantly clear to any members of the US electorate who may stumble onto my blog.
Namely, there exists a certain class of (let us call them) Professionally Cynical Commentators who inhabit primarily the left of the Political spectrum**. These commentators are instantly recognizable, because they will say things like “It doesn’t matter who you vote for!” or “It’s a ‘Coke-Pepsi’ election!”
Now, of course, to a certain extent these people a point. Where foreign policy is concerned, no matter who you vote for, you’re going to end-up with someone who believes in a foreign policy filled with military adventurism, interventionism, murdering people with drone strikes, unquestioningly supporting Israel and pouring hundreds of billions of dollars down a vast money hole in the vain hope that by so doing, America will be able to maintain its (already faded) ‘hyperpower’ status into eternity. On the economy, you are faced with a choice between slowing the growth of the staggeringly enormous income gap between the top 1% and everybody else and accelerating it. No one at all is seriously advancing policies that will start to shrink this income gap. You can look at policies on crime, the environment, the war on drugs, immigration, and so forth and come to similar conclusions.
It’s pretty clear then that what you have are two political parties pretending that their ideologies are absolutely, diametrically opposed to one another, when in fact all debate is being limited to a very narrow slice of the ideological spectrum (namely the slice that, essentially, leaves the power of the establishment more or less unchecked).
From this perspective, then, this idea that it does not matter who wins has a certain degree of intuitive appeal.
And of course, they are right. If you happen to be a straight, cis-gender, white, able-bodied, upper-middle class male (like, by the way, the overwhelming majority of the people who have made this argument, as far as I can see), the overwhelming likelihood is that your lot in life will not change one iota depending on who wins the election. This, very simply, is because that narrow slice of the political spectrum that I was talking about happens to have been specifically selected so as to enshrine the interests of people like you.
If, however, you do not belong to these groups, then it matters very much who wins the election. If you are a woman, then in general, it’s going to matter a whole fucking hell of a lot whether the President of your country thinks that you should not have sovereignty over your own body. If you are an ethnic minority, it is going to matter a whole fucking hell of a lot whether the President of your country represents a political party that has gone out of its way to disenfranchise you and has even gone so far as to try to repeal the Voting Rights Act. If you are poor, than it matters a whole fucking hell of a lot if your President thinks that you could have only possibly gotten that way through abject moral failure: or, for that matter, if you end-up called upon to fight in your President’s crusade against Iran. If you are gay then it matters a whole fucking lot if your President thinks that you do not deserve to marry your partner. If you are transgender or bisexual, then it matters a whole fucking lot if your President believes your existence is too ‘controversial’ to merit encouraging people not to bully you to the point of suicide. If you are an immigrant then it matters a whole fucking lot if your President supports fascistic anti-immigration laws in the state of Arizona. If you are a student, then it matters a whole fucking lot if the President’s only policy to deal with your crippling five-figure debt is to tell you to go to your parents and beg for money.
All of those “social issues” which are just a “distraction” and don’t really matter? Yeah? They matter a whole fucking lot if you’re not a member of the target demographic. I speak from experience, by the way: before I realized I was transgender, I used to be a vocal proponent of this idea. Now I can see from my altered perspective just what abject bullshit it really is.
Now, of course, I too wish that the political discourse in the United States was more widely spread-out across the political spectrum. But quite frankly, the only possible perspective from which you can argue that “it doesn’t matter who wins the election” is one of extreme privilege. By all means: check it.
*Bullshit. Vote Obama.
**Although a lot of Libertarians make this point as well.